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Lions eat poacher and leave ‘just his head’

African lions are regularly targeted by poachers at the park
Image: African lions are regularly targeted by poachers at the park

A suspected poacher has been mauled to death and eaten by a pack of lions near a national park in South Africa.

The man’s head and other remains were found in a private game park close to Kruger National Park, near the northern town of Hoedspruit, on Saturday morning.

Police, who are working to establish the identity of the victim, discovered a loaded hunting rifle nearby.

“It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions,” police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe said.

“They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains.”

Animals in the game park have been poached in increasing numbers over recent years.

Lions are popular targets, with their body parts used in traditional South African medicines.

Several of the big cats were found poisoned near a farm in the same region last year, with their heads and paws having been sawn off.

WWF estimates that there are just 20,000 African lions left in the wild, and that 75% of the species’ populations are in decline.

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It means they are officially classed as “vulnerable”.

Other animals regularly targeted by poachers in South Africa’s game parks are rhino, to satisfy a booming demand for their horn in China, Vietnam and other Asian countries.

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